"The Mystery of the Riverboat" while ending each chapter with a cliffhanger is more episodic in nature than the usual Universal serial and somewhat similar to Universal's 1934 "Tailspin ... See full summary »
"The Mystery of the Riverboat" while ending each chapter with a cliffhanger is more episodic in nature than the usual Universal serial and somewhat similar to Universal's 1934 "Tailspin Tommy" in that aspect as some plot lines are completed as a story within the overall story. Plus, while some serials often contained a title song or motif throughout, this one has six songs scattered around and about performed by either Marion Martin - and we have no idea if she was dubbed or did her own warbling - and former Three Mesquiteer and future head Mouseketeer Jimmie Dodd, who did his own. The overly-plotted (for juvenile Saturday matinée audiences to keep up with over a period of 13 weeks) story finds three Louisiana families, the Langtrys, Perrins and Duvals, as co-owners of swamp land in the Louisiana bayou country. Unaware that the property contains rich "nitrolene" deposits, they are considering an offer from speculator Herman Einreich, who is well aware of the secret, having killed the ... Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I was expecting this to be more of a western almost, with a gambling boat or something, from the title. The riverboat in question is a rather durable one, even for a piece of scenery in a serial. It survived a fire, a boiler explosion, a broken levee and flood, and crashing into several shanty boats along the way.
Robert Lowery makes another predictable serial performance. He was fairly good in the Batman serial, but tries way too hard to be Kane Richmond. He does know how to swim though, as I believe he hit the drink in six of the thirteen chapters. Lyle Talbot is always enjoyable, and plays one of the many bad guys (as usual). The surprise here was Mantan Moreland, who I had not previously known had done any serials. Mantan gives the best performance of anyone here, giving the limited and somewhat comic role he was given. He makes the serial worth the time to watch, as do some above par special effects, particularly during the levee break sequences (though I am not sure if they were actually filmed for this serial or are stock footage).
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